2010 DEVELOPMENT CAMP - DAY 2
Good morning Penguins fans! After a good night's rest, the guys are starting to file into Mellon Arena for day two of Development Camp 2010. Pittsburgh strength & conditioning coach Mike Kadar, along with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton strength & conditioning coach Joe Lorincz, have two separate groups of players ready to go through an hour-long workout this morning. The on-ice portion will once again take place this afternoon at the Southpointe Ice-o-Plex, where several fans were ready to greet the players on their way out yesterday. It was awesome to see such a reception... Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fans are truly THE most devoted fans around, and like many others, are starving for hockey here in July!!
I will be sitting down with a bunch of the players through the course of the day, so keep checking back here for updates. Brad Thiessen's podcast will also be ready for download this morning.
The two workout groups are "finished and famished"! Time to head upstairs here at Mellon Arena for another excellent lunch. Sports psychologist Aimee Kimball will then lead the players through a brief session before the bus departs for the Southpointe Ice-o-Plex.
I had a great chat with defenseman Carl Sneep after his workout today. He's a big, smart kid and a great interview. I'm saving some of that for a profile in the upcoming season.
I will also have some transcripts of chats with Pittsburgh Executive Vice President & GM Ray Shero, as well as head coach Dan Bylsma, posted this afternoon.
Oh, and one last thing... Marc-Andre Fleury says hello to all of you in northeastern Pennsylvania. He just stopped in.
We just stepped off the bus here at Southpointe, and the guys are already in their workout clothes getting ready for "activation" - warmups, basically - before hitting the ice for their second day of on-ice evaluations.
Dan Bylsma and I had a chat about last season's players from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton making their contributions in Pittsburgh, the Penguins' offseason signings (specifically competition on defense), and the improvement/first impression, respectively, of the last two first-round picks Simon Despres and Beau Bennett. I'll have tidbits from that later on.
One other important note for the curious: there are three players who are not participating in this week's development camp. Cornell's Nicholas D'Agostino did not make the trip to Pittsburgh this week, and goaltender Mattias Modig and defenseman Viktor Ekbom are not skating.
Bylsma will be joining Tom Fitzgerald, Gilles Meloche, John Hynes, and Todd Reirden on the ice in about 30 minutes. More pictures forthcoming for the Facebook faithful!
The ice is emptying here at Southpointe, and the bus back to Mellon Arena awaits. Head coach Todd Reirden and Tom Fitzgerald put together these lines for today's skate:
Dustin Jeffrey - Casey Pierro-Zabotel - Beau Bennett
Joey Haddad - Brian Gibbons - Tom Kuehnhackl
Simon Despres - Robert Bortuzzo
Reid McNeill - Carl Sneep
Eric Tangradi - Keven Veilleux - Alex Smigelski
Ben Hanowski - Zach Sill - Paul Thompson
Brian Strait - Alex Grant
Alex Velischek - Brady Lamb
One obvious big note is the return of Keven Veilleux, as he did not skate yesterday. Penguins fans have not seen Keven at home since prior to last November 14th, when he was injured in a collision with Hershey's Greg Amadio at Giant Center. If it is possible, Keven officially grew a little more. He was measured at 6'5-and-almost-3/4". Keven simply said "I feel great" while he was spray-painting his stick before heading onto the ice, and in many conversations I had with the super-polite center since last season, he is more than eager to make his return. He looked good today, too. Injuring his shoulder did not seem to slow his skating stride down.
A few other points of interest. Alex Smigelski, a 22-year-old undrafted free agent center out of Williams College, is a name that is coming up in conversation quite a bit among the staff here. He is a strong kid. He did the maximum of 60 pushups at UPMC yesterday morning in no time at all, and wasn't even breaking a sweat. He impressed the strength and conditioning coaches this morning at the group workouts. And he has a swift, accurate shot from what I saw on the ice. Not to mention he has a very friendly, outgoing personality, which is big on Tom Fitzgerald's list of plusses.
Ben Hanowski, Pittsburgh's 3rd round selection in 2009, is starting to climb the overall points ladder at this week's "competition" by taking three points at this afternoon's sports psychology events. He is another of my interview subjects this week, and I'll be using some of what we discussed today for a future profile.
From the pool of players in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season, Brian Strait is rising above the crop in terms of conditioning. He pulled the most points out of the group workouts this morning, and looks to be in great form on the ice.
Also, Zach Sill is picking up where he left off last season, possibly buoyed by his signing an AHL deal not too long ago. He looked gritty and fast this afternoon.
Finally, it's no secret here this week that Dustin Jeffrey and Eric Tangradi are the two players that the fans here in Pittsburgh are excited to see more of. Jeffrey was firing shots with pinpoint accuracy at Brad Thiessen today, and Tangradi was doing the same on Patrick Killeen. The casual conversations that I walked by today contained a lot of "is Tangradi going to get more physical?" and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette covers these two players well in a recent article. Dan Bylsma mentions these two players in the transcript of our conversation that I will post later tonight.
The boys have an off-day from the ice tomorrow, and will be hitting the paintball field for some "friendly fire." After that, it's another delicious lunch, followed by a tour of the brand-spanking-new Consol Energy Center that the Pittsburgh Penguins are beginning to call home this very week. A scavenger hunt and dinner will round out a much lighter day three.
Have a great night!